Fans of museums, art, and happy endings will fall in love with this light, beautiful love story. In love with the art, that is, for that is what this story is all about. In soft earthy hues, wordless panels introduce the reader to a magnificent celebration in the Louvre and gradually to a mysterious figure who compares the eddying crowds to the magnificent art that surrounds them. But the mysterious figure isn’t part of the celebration. He’s escaping and, when he finds a fellow wanderer, the two come together to explore the museum and to reflect on the nature of art and beauty, life and death. Finally, the retiring art director follows his young and beautiful companion into the final experience of the art he’s been surrounded by all his life.
There’s nothing unexpected in this story and the reader will easily see the small plot twists coming, but as the subtitle says, this is a graphic poem and the true story is in the art itself, not in the framing device of the story. Carefully selected works of art, including sculptures and paintings from many classical eras, flow together to create a portrait of beauty and change. The Louvre itself, its towering ceilings and dusky halls in the twilight, is more of a character than the two people that flit through it, pursued by security guards, gradually throwing off their human lives, and finally being absorbed into the art itself. The graphics surrounding the art are shown in soft fuzzy browns, against which the director’s black suit shows up sharply until he begins to lose his formal clothes and become part of the slowly darkening building.
This book is an enjoyable walk through a beautiful gallery of art and includes some thought-provoking ideas, but to best understand what’s going on a passing acquaintance with the Louvre and its history is needed. Adults who enjoy museum visits and conversations about art will enjoy this title, but it’s not likely to have a wide audience unless your library is closely involved with a local art museum.